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VACCINE PASSPORTS - MY THOUGHTS IN BULLET POINTS - JOSEPH CHIFFERS

1. Selfishness is state of mind. To know whether a person is selfish, one would have to have some understanding of their motivation. If a person genuinely believes that a vaccine[1] may be harmful to their health and/or genuinely believes that there is at most, a very low risk that they would cause another person to become seriously ill or to die by choosing not to have the relevant vaccine, they cannot sensibly be called selfish. You could argue that they are wrong and/or irrational, but it is incorrect to claim that they are selfish. This argument is lazy and foolish. If such an argument is made by a person who is relatively intelligent, such as MICHAEL GOVE, one has to ask whether it is being made in bad faith.


2. A similar platitude to ‘freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences’ is being used to justify vaccine passports, i.e., ‘you have the right to refuse a vaccine but not the right to be free from the consequences of this decision’. This platitude is tautologous and meaningless. The question is whether the ‘consequences’, which are clearly imposed and not natural, are justified.


3. When people compare vaccine passports with other laws based on the harm principle, such as those relating to smoking and seatbelt wearing, one should firstly question whether such laws are justified (the fact that they are laws does not make them morally or philosophically justified) and secondly whether the comparison is valid. In my view none of the comparisons made so far are valid because they all relate to temporary and confined activities; having to wear a seatbelt has no impact on a person when they are not driving. Being unable to smoke in a specific area does not prevent one from smoking elsewhere or visiting that area without smoking (rather than comparing smoking bans with vaccine passports, it would be more accurate to compare them with forcing someone to smoke). A vaccine once administered enters the body; it is not temporary or confined to a particular activity.


4. If a person fears serious adverse effects from a vaccine, then they will suffer genuine psychological harm from having the vaccine, even if their fears are misplaced. This cannot reasonably be disregarded when deciding policy.


5. If vaccine passports cannot be successfully challenged under the Equality Act 2010 and/or the Human Rights Act 1998/ European Convention on Human Rights 1950, then these instruments would in my opinion, be unfit for purpose. Whilst as a practicing barrister I comply with my professional and legal obligations and seek to avail clients of any legal avenue that is open to them, I have always opposed the aforesaid instruments. I hope that I am forced to re-consider my position if these instruments do prevent vaccine passports. I fear that I will not be.


6. My understanding of the application of the Equality Act 2010 would be that a ‘no jab no job’ policy would amount to indirect discrimination against somebody who would not wish to have a vaccine due to their religious or philosophical belief. Therefore, such a policy could potentially be legally justified if it was deemed a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. In light of 4 above, it seems wholly arbitrary and unjust to exempt only those people who could claim to be refusing to take the vaccine due to a religious or philosophical belief. This also follows point 5 above.


7. Unless a person is physically impelled into an action, they have a choice. This would apply if a person was threatened at gun point; they have a choice between risking death or complying. The important moral question is firstly whether a person should be responsible for their choices in circumstances of pressure, coercion, or merely the consequences which they believe will flow from their choices. The second question is whether it is immoral to apply pressure, coercion, or even to impose certain consequences for a person’s choice. If a person is faced with the loss of employment or being prevented from accessing basic amenities for failing to accept a vaccine, they are not making a free choice when accepting it. DOMINIC RAAB stated that the aim of vaccine passports was to ‘coax and cajole’.


8. I can envisage entitlement to state benefits being contingent upon submitting to the vaccine. This is in the context of governmental policy making more people dependent on state benefits.


9. This ARTICLE, which could have been written by the ghost of Pavlik Morozov[2], argues that the author’s unvaccinated father should be excluded from society until he has the vaccine. Her main argument seems to be that this will protect society, but she also states that such an approach would protect him. Trying to protect him from himself in this way, is to use Kantian language, to treat him as a means and not an end[3]. It would be illogical and inconsistent to adopt such an approach and not have the state seek to control his lifestyle and diet.



10. Taking the case for Covid 19 vaccines at its highest, the vaccines reduce the probability of infection and/or the development of serious symptoms rather than eliminate it.


11. Whilst there is in a sense, a qualitative difference between the state imposing restrictions on unvaccinated citizens and vaccinating them by force, in the narrow sense of being restrictions on liberty imposed by the state, the difference between the two is merely quantitative. Yet vaccine passports are not a restriction on liberty based on the unvaccinated causing harm; the harm in this case comes from a non-sentient virus and from the person simply existing and breathing. To avoid the restrictions on liberty caused by vaccine passports one does not merely have to refrain from causing harm, one has to carry out the positive act of attending a clinic and submitting to the injection of the vaccine into the body to prevent a virus from causing harm. For this reason, vaccine passports cross a Rubicon as did the first lockdown.


12. It cannot be correct to state that there is no risk in having the vaccine; there is a risk involved in any drug or form of medical treatment and new data can emerge which changes the consensus on whether a particular drug or form of treatment is safe. This is significant when the state is proposing to restrict the liberty of the unvaccinated. The mainstream media is incessantly covering stories of unvaccinated people who have allegedly become unwell due to Covid 19 and regret not having the vaccine, without any statistical context or means of verifying the stories. There is almost no coverage of the reported adverse effects of the vaccines and the concerns of eminent experts such as Gert Van Der Bosch and Mike Yeadon.


13. ‘Politics is the art of the possible’[4]. There are certain things that cannot be achieved by political action, but what can be achieved is the limiting of state power to prevent tyranny. The state should never have the power to pressure its citizens into relinquishing their bodily autonomy, where they are not causing harm to others, as opposed to a virus allegedly causing such harm.





[1] For ease of reference, I use the term vaccine to refer to vaccines that are allegedly designed to prevent Covid 19. I make no comment on the argument over whether the alleged vaccines are in fact vaccines. I would not even claim to know the medically correct definition of a vaccine and merely have the most basic lay understanding of the same. [2] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Pavlik-Morozov [3] Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals (4:439). [4] Attributed to Otto Van Bismarck

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